Crafting Virtual Worlds of Believable Escapades: CD Projekt's Side Quest Secret

Gabriel Lockhart


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When players dive into massive RPGs like The Witcher 3 or Cyberpunk 2077, it isn’t just the sprawling main campaign that captures their imaginations — it's the countless, meticulously crafted side quests. Indeed, these diversions often yield the most memorable moments, with rich narratives that could easily stand on their own. Behind the scenes, the magic formula for weaving such compelling miniature tales involves rigorous curation and an unwavering commitment to quality over quantity, as revealed by Cyberpunk 2077's lead quest designer, Pawel Sasko.

At CD Projekt Red, the birth of a side quest is a Darwinian process where only the fittest ideas survive, but the ecosystem is teeming with possibilities. Designers pitch their concepts, no matter how numerous, into an arena where most will be discarded, with the acceptance rate for ideas hovering between a mere five to ten percent; even the most talented team members understand that quantity is necessary to strike upon those rare, quality gems. Sasko’s strategy invites a deluge of creativity, which is then distilled, allowing only the most engaging and plausible scenarios to emerge.

The methodology casts a wide net, encouraging the team to explore an eclectic blend of genres and themes. Quest designers are pushed to develop a plethora of pitches on a daily basis, each elegantly expressed in a few captivating sentences. This efficiency in idea generation serves as a breeding ground for innovation, ensuring a vibrant variety of experiences in the games. The pursuit isn't just about rejecting the majority of ideas but about recognizing the potential brilliance in the few that will resonate deeply with gamers.

Critical to the endeavor is a realistic approach to production constraints. While the selection process is stringent, the team at CD Projekt Red is well aware that great ideas also have to be feasible. Sasko's confidence that side quests can be executed without breaking the bank is crucial to maintaining the wide variety without compromising the studio’s artistic vision. This balance between ideation and practicality is key to not only maintaining high standards for storytelling but also ensuring the end product is a consistent and polished experience for players.

At the heart of CD Projekt Red's success is a philosophy that champions the relentless pursuit of exceptional narratives, even if it means a significant number of ideas must be left behind. This commitment to selective quality, coupled with the wisdom that even the best creators are not infallible, instills a culture where the artistry of storytelling reigns supreme. Sasko's insight into the quest creation process paints a picture of a fertile creative process where only the most captivating adventures make it to the players, securing CD Projekt's reputation as a top-tier storyteller in the realm of RPG gaming.


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